Dr. Michael J. Phillips, vice president, food and agriculture, science and regulatory policy, of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Survey grower planting intentions survey for 2004.

“Today’s grower survey confirms the continued acceptance of biotech crops by U.S. farmers and their recognition of the economic, agronomic and environmental advantages of biotech crops. Since their introduction in 1996, there has been a yearly increase in the number of acres planted with biotech seeds in nearly every crop category. Farmers, when given access to these improved crops, continue to choose the biotech alternative.

“The use of biotech crops continues to rise in the United States, evidence that farmers have found that biotechnology can improve crops’ resistance to disease and pests, increase yields and reduce the use of pesticides. With the introduction of new pest-resistant products last year, acreage of biotech corn plantings are up 9.7% to 46% of all corn planted in the U.S.; biotech soybean acreage increased 9.2% to 86% of all plantings; and biotech cotton acreage increased 9.1% to 76% of all plantings.

“The last year has seen an increased acceptance of agricultural biotechnology globally with biotech crops planted in 18 countries on more than 167 million acres, with a 15% increase in 2003 over 2002.”

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. For more information on BIO, please visit www.bio.org.